The USF Bulls travel to Louisville to face an old friend in the Cardinals on Saturday, so we figured we’d catch up with our friends at Card Chronicle and see how the other half is living.
The Daily Stampede: Louisville’s offense seems like it’s Malik Cunningham and 10 other dudes. Who should USF fans be worried about on Saturday besides MK3?
Card Chronicle: While Malik has the notoriety, there are some other offensive weapons to be aware of when it comes to this year’s matchup. The Cards snagged a transfer from Tennessee named Tiyon Evans at running back, and although he was inactive last week against FSU he appears to be available this week against the Bulls. He has accounted for 164yds and two touchdowns in the first two games so he is a threat on the ground and tough to bring down.
Through the air, look for Central Arkansas transfer Tyler Hudson and Ahmari Huggins-Bruce (small/fast) to make plays if they can create space. One item of note is the season ending injury to wideout Dee Wiggins, which will open the window of opportunity for some guys who had not seen much time previously in Josh Johnson and freshman Chris Bell. New faces can sometimes translate to new playmakers. Other times it can be dudes who have no clue what is going on. We shall see.
The Daily Stampede: The Louisville defense has struggled through games at giving up big plays especially on the ground. USF is fresh off a nearly 300 yard rushing performance at Florida. Are you worried about how the Bulls could do same thing on Saturday?
Card Chronicle: You could have prefaced “are you worried” with just about anything when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. The answer is yes.
I’ll save your readers the ‘War and Peace’ version of this answer and just give them the ‘War’ part....as in, fans are at ‘war’ with this defensive staff. Lots of the same issues we’ve been plagued with the last three years continue to rear their ugly little heads a few games into 2022. The big issue for many is what appears to be a lack of preparation and energy on that side of the ball which often translates to missed assignments, missed tackles, and very little disruption to the offensive gameplan.
We either commit to stopping the run and get gashed in the passing game or commit to stopping the pass and give up 300 yards on the ground. We seem to sell out to one side or the other to combat the opposing team’s strengths but then forget these are Division I athletes who can still make plays, even if it’s not their bread and butter. Something tells me the Cards look to load the box and bring pressure up front, so I fully expect a capable Bohanon to throw for 350 and a couple touchdowns.
The Daily Stampede: With yet another otherworldly QB at the helm, it feels like The Ville has just never gotten over the hump since leaving The American. What’s been the main issue?
Card Chronicle: This answer is a multi-part series with lots of cliffhangers and tons of nightmare inducing visuals for fans of Louisville football. A simple answer is always recruiting and getting the right guys in here to compete at a high level, but a bit more complex answer is the schools around them in the ACC getting better and them kind of staying the same.
Programs like Miami, Pitt, Wake, etc have put together championship caliber seasons in the last few years by building talent and having a staff that knows what it takes to win football games. Louisville has already gone through one coaching change since joining the ACC and may be on the verge of a second change just eight years in.
While we’ve seen some nine win seasons in years past it’s concerning we had a talent like Lamar Jackson for multiple seasons and still never cracked double digit wins. A decent 2022 will hopefully keep together what will go down as the Cards best recruiting class in history for 2023 (17th currently) with some 5 and 4 star talents on their way. Maybe that helps get them over the hump and they start building something that can compete for conference titles again like they did in the Big East and AAC.
The Daily Stampede: Do you remember that 2005 game? Fun times.
Card Chronicle: No. Don’t recall a single Amarri Jackson touchdown. Next question. (Part of a stretch which may have produced some of the best Louisville teams in program history)
The Daily Stampede: Are you more or less confident in the Cardinals winning on Saturday than you were this time last week?
Card Chronicle: Less. And if they somehow found a way to pull out the win last week late I think that’s still my answer. It’s just the recurrence of issues we’ve seen for multiple seasons that don’t seem to get fixed or addressed. I still think they win the game, but that 13-14 point line seems a bit fat to me. I think we’re looking at more of a 7-10 point game from what I’ve seen so far, which I assume will lead me into your next question...
The Daily Stampede: Score prediction?
Card Chronicle: I did a season prediction back in August where we took a stab at each game and the forecasted outcome. My comments for this one at that time were the following....
Bulls, Beaches, Battlestar Galactica. Rumor is that South Florida will field a really good football team this year. FALSE. They will not. Cards roll.
Louisville 45 - USF 13
Just four weeks in, how the turntables have turned. The uninspired defense—at times—and the offense still looking for an identity gives me pause to make this anything but close one into the fourth. I do think UofL has superior talent this time around, but Bohanon makes me nervous. Look for the Bulls to put up some decent numbers on offense, but their defense lets Malik get loose one too many times. Cards 38 - Bulls 28